From Too Many Chefs -

May 1, 2006
Grilled Onions, Living Ginger Ale, and the Best Pizza in Chicago

We start the week with three items that don't fully deserve a post of their own, but that I think are worth knowing about.

First off is a dish I've been making as a side for Mexican dishes, but that would be right at home next to a steak or pork roast or grilled chicken.

In one Mexican restaurant we visited recently, these were called "cebollitas" or "little onions". The onions I use for this side are more bulby than scallions and less huge than normal white onions. The bulbs are about the size of a fat thumb, and have their scallion-like greens still attached.

To prepare these, slice the onion in half lengthwise. Next, break out the grill pan or set up the barbecue. Get a nice hot fire going, and brush the grll or grill pan with corn or olive oil. Next brush the onions lightly with the same oil.

Place the onions across the grill and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Grill a few minutes on one side, then flip the onions over. Grill them until they wilt and the bulbs are tender. Serve immediately as a side dish. They're amazing.

Secondly, I am pleased to report that Fankhauser's Ginger Ale recipe produces a fine, fizzy beverage. The taste is not like Canada Dry or Schweppes, but much cleaner, even if there is a little ginger pulp in the mixture.

Fankhauser's recipe is better than commercial gingerales in one other way, also. It's a living thing, so more fizz can be generated easily. I first let the mix sit near the radiator for 24 hours, at which point the bottle was tight, and felt full of gas. After refrigeration, the tautness of the bottle had eased, and I had a slightly fizzy beverage, but nowhere near as fizzy as a commercial drink.

I took the bottle out of the refrigerator and set it back near the radiator for 30 or so hours. The bottle was taut again and once refrigerated this time produced a seriously fizzy glass of ginger ale. As long as you don't kill the yeast, you could probably repeat this trick, though at some point I'd be worried about other beasties growing in the bottle. All in all, it was a huge success.

Third and finally, I have found the best stuffed pizza in Chicago, where stuffed pizza is a religion. It's not Edwardo's or Giordano's or Lou Malnati's or Uno's or Due's any of the usual suspects. The best stuffed pizza in Chicago (or at least the best I've ever tasted) is found on West Montrose at a place called Bellona's.

There's one problem with Bellona's. From what I could see, they have very little seating - as in one table and two chairs. Yep, if you want to enjoy Bellona's unbelievably crispy crust, slightly sweet marinara sauce, and a mozzarella that is better than any I've had on any other pizza, you have to either pick up or live in their delivery area.

We've had their pizza four times now, and each time, it impresses. We get spinach and mushroom, which is usually a recipe for a soggy pie from any of the big name pizza joints, but Bellona's delivers a crispy crust every time. I was also impressed with the prices, which are a few dollars per pie lower than the big name joints.

Bellona's Pizza is at
3447 W Montrose in Chicago
Call 773-588-8500
I have not found a web site for them.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at May 1, 2006 7:27 AM

Cebollitas definitely make for an amazing side dish. Grilled is definitely the way to go. The best spot to find them is a Mexican market, where they're usually plentiful and cheap.

Also, they're often available (cooked) at taquerias, and darn tasty. I recommend the ones at Comales.

Posted by Joshua on May 1, 2006 at 1:26 PM

Thanks for the pizza tip! Also, on the cebollitas, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a pinch of salt just as you serve them is heavenly!

Posted by Monica on May 1, 2006 at 2:23 PM

Lime juice! Monica - that's a great idea. I'm glad I still have a bundle in the crisper.

Posted by barrett on May 1, 2006 at 3:26 PM

Thanks for the tip on Bellona's. I'll be in town this weekend for the Fancy Foods show, hopefully I'll have time to check it out.

Posted by the pragmatic chef™ on May 2, 2006 at 10:39 AM

mexican cuisine has more yummy and mouth watering food items -you could experiment with non-vegetarian items other than onions , or , maybe , even acombination of both. it would surely be enjoyable. however , too much aof agood thing may turn out to be bad . although , mexican food is appetising , yet , it is too aspicy , and excess intake of the same may damge the digestive system.

Posted by sam on May 3, 2006 at 4:44 AM